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In today’s gospel the Pharisee is boastful and confident of his righteousness. He feels he needs no help from God. Therefore he receives nothing from God. The tax collector, aware of his sinfulness and the error of his ways decides to change his life around. He humbles himself before God and begs His forgiveness. God forgives him his sins.


Again, we are made aware that only God knows whether a person is truly good or not. He sees what is in our hearts. People, however, judge others by what is outwardly visible, not being able to see what a person really is inside. This should remind us never to judge others by their outward appearances.


The Pharisee’s sin is that he trusts in himself so much that he needs no one’s help, not even God’s help. Everything he does is right. He doesn’t like other people because they are not as perfect as he is, so he hates most people, especially tax collectors. He also feels God owes him a free pass to heaven because of all the good works he has done. Ahh, but his heart is very, very small, and God knows it.


All people are created by God who loves us all equally. When we start hating each other, we offend God. As a parent, I would feel very much offended and hurt if my children started hating each other. And so it is with God. You can hate a person’s sin, but you should not hate the person.


A sinful person can at any moment realize his/her sinfulness, beg forgiveness from God, and God, who knows this person is truly repentant will forgive the sins. Just like the father forgiving and welcoming his prodigal son. Just like the Good Shepherd welcoming the lost sheep. It happened for St. Paul who was once a Pharisee, persecuting Christians. It happened for St. Matthew who was once a tax collector.


We must examine our hearts and determine if we truly love God above all things and show kindness, patience, love and understanding to our brothers and sisters. All of us sin one way or another and we need to acknowledge that and beg God’s mercy and forgiveness as the tax collector does in this parable.


Whoever exalts himself/herself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself/herself will be exalted. Luke 18:14

Lloyd Lapierre